A/N A year ago a reviewer Nicole Miklos requested a follow up to "The Cat's Meow." I couldn't think of anything for the longest time. I doubt she's even still interested in it but I never forgot her request. Finally a thought came to me. This probably isn't going to be as funny as some thought the prequel was. It's what came to mind though.

What happens in this might not be really possible, but after all it's fanfiction. When I was having doubts I remembered the episode "Spooks For Sale" and decided to go ahead and finish this as I saw fit.

Disclaimer: I do not profit from the characters of The Streets Of San Francisco. I am not the creator of the series, that is Quinn Martin.

The Essence Remains

In Tahoe Steve felt free. After he'd cleaned up and arranged with Olsen to take some time off he left town. Steve couldn't get the humiliation he'd endured off his mind. The fact that the other homicide guys were there as well didn't set well with him. As he was skiing he took incredible risks. A snowdrift ended up stopping his reckless maneuver. Another skier who tried to avoid Steve ended up in a collision instead. As they untangled themselves from each other the looks on their faces registered their surprise.

"Steve? Steve Keller?" the other man questioned.

"Chuck Mermelstein?" Steve asked.

As they got to their feet they shook hands glad to see each other after so long. Steve offered to buy Chuck a drink and they headed toward the lift. Once they were back on the ground and had removed their skis, they went into the cafe rather than the bar. As they waited for their hot chocolates to arrive they talked.

"I hope you didn't mind Steve, I mean about the bar." Chuck spoke.

"Of course not. A hot chocolate actually sounded good." Steve responded with a smile.

"It's just I do better to avoid liquor. I had a little problem with it after college. I've not had a drink in almost two years now and I want to keep it that way." Chuck explained.

"I'm glad to hear it Chuck. It's not an easy habit to break. You should be proud of yourself." Steve commented.

"Taking it day by day. So far so good. So tell me about you. What are you up to these days? I knew you left Berkeley to go to the police academy, how did that go?" Chuck inquired.

"It's going really well. I'm at SFPD in homicide. There are days it's really good, most of them actually." Steve answered smiling. "You know actually speaking of homicide, there's something I'd like to run by you."

"Shoot." Chuck smiled at his old friend.

Steve told Chuck about Mike and Jeannie and the guys from homicide. He gave a brief summary of what happened and his veiled threat. Chuck could tell that the incident bothered Steve more than he had expressed. He waited for the rest of Steve's thoughts to come out.

"The more I thought about it though, I don't want it to be an empty threat. I'd really like to get a little payback, nothing evil. I remembered you majored in chemistry at Berkeley. I don't want to drag you in the middle of this but thought you might point me in the right direction at least. I've got an idea floating around in my head and I think I can make it happen." Steve vaguely explained.

"You know something Steve, hearing what happened a thought popped into my mind as well. I'm not one that sticks my nose where it doesn't belong or looks for trouble but I want to help in this case. Are you really intent on staying here longer?" Chuck questioned.

"I was mainly just trying to get away from them for a bit. How long were you staying?" Steve asked.

"Well, I'd like to get started on this. I thought you and I could head back. I've got a lab at my house I can work in. We can brainstorm how to go from there. I'm game if you are." Chuck gave a verbal nudge.

Steve nodded and they headed to pack after their hot chocolates were consumed. After they'd checked out of the ski resort lodge Steve followed Chuck to the airport. Once Chuck returned his rental car he rode with Steve. They drove to Chuck's home in Oakland. Once Chuck had his luggage and skis in his house they went to his lab. Although Steve offered help Chuck declined. It didn't take Chuck long to mix together a synthetic cat urine. Steve was offered a sniff and his nose immediately wrinkled up.

"That smells too familiar!" Steve exclaimed.

"It's the perfect mixture then. I've made this before during chem lab at Berkeley. It's not hard especially when you've got all the ingredients on hand." Chuck answered. "I'll make more of it and we'll get things rolling."

As Chuck worked on mixing up a bigger batch, he and Steve talked over various information. Steve wasn't told exact thoughts but knew Chuck had some sort of idea in mind. Chuck had always been into James Bond and he had several working for him who were as well. Like many dreamers Chuck felt some fictional characters actually had real time knowledge. That's not to say that he would put his complete trust in the character without learning things on his own. As he worked the wheels were spinning in Chuck's mind. The perfect execution of the plan was forming with precise detail. He knew if this was going to work Steve would have to be able to keep a complete poker face. As he remembered poker games when they were in college he had no doubts Steve still had that ability. He also knew it was best Steve still be unavailable to the others when things got rolling. He suggested Steve might head back to Tahoe or elsewhere for the duration of his time off. Steve realized Chuck was saying that it was best Steve not know some things. He didn't need any second suggestion, he nodded and was gone.

"You guys smell that?" Norm questioned with a wrinkling of his nose.

"Yeah, I smelled it a little earlier too. I thought it was because the window was open. Now it smells a bit stronger. Maybe we're smelling Steve." Sergeant Brockport chuckled.

"Enough of that wisecrack Brockport! Maybe it's your guilty conscience you and Norm are smelling. Maybe it's all of our guilty consciences. I smell it but thought it was because of guilty conscience." Bill spoke up. "It wasn't nice of us to be laughing at Steve. I think the joking about it should end here and now. He was really riled up by our little joke or he wouldn't have taken time off."

"Tanner come on, I know he's the lieutenant's fair haired boy but it was just too good an opportunity. He'll forgive you guys quicker than you think. I'm just thankful I'm only temporarily here. If he's that uptight it could prove to be worse than being in a box with a porcupine being here." Brockport spoke sarcastically.

"Brockport my office now." Mike ordered.

Every eye in the squad room turned toward Mike who had came in the door without any noise. Mike walked to his office and hung up his hat and overcoat. Brockport went to Mike's office after a look toward the others. As he came in Mike indicated he was to close the door. The others returned their attention to their work. Norm though kept sniffing the air and even his typewriter where he was typing a report. Bill and Healey weren't sure where the smell was coming from. It seemed to grow even stronger every time they moved their chairs. When Brockport came out of Mike's office, he went back to his desk without a word. Mike got up to get a glass of water from his file cabinet. As he took a drink the contents came spewing out. A loud coughing sound drew everyone's attention. Bill looked and saw Mike with his face slightly red. As he rushed in to see what was wrong Norm and Healey followed.

"Mike what's wrong?" Bill inquired concerned.

Mike pointed to the water glass in his hand. It just held clear water. Bill wasn't sure what the problem was. When Mike pushed the glass under Bill's nose he quickly learned what was wrong. The look on Bill's face made Healey and Norm take a sniff.

"Oh that reeks!" Healey exclaimed. "Mike when did you fill that water pitcher?"

"It's not old water if that's what you're thinking. Has Steve been here?" Mike inquired.

"Mike now you know Steve's out of town. He's been gone since that little fiasco at your house. Anyway I don't think he would pull this." Norm answered.

"You're right Norm. I shouldn't have asked that." Mike sounded regretful. "I can't understand the water tasting like it did though."

"I was telling the guys earlier I'm thinking our guilty consciences are bothering us. I mean all of us have been smelling an odd smell. I'm wishing Steve was here to apologize to." Bill lamented.

"I've got a feeling that even when he returns he won't be too eager to hear apologies. I can't say I blame him either." Mike voiced his thoughts.

"I know. I probably wouldn't if I were in Steve's shoes I have to admit." Healey spoke up.

When Steve returned two days later the smells were still there. Steve wasn't sure how to react. He was able to keep a poker face though. Mike knew he needed to get something done about the smell. He closed his office door for privacy. Just as he was about to pick his phone up to call about getting someone in his phone rang.

"Homicide Stone." Mike answered.

"Mike it's Jeannie. Do you have a minute?" Jeannie inquired.

"It's good to hear from you sweetheart. Of course for you anytime. How are things going there? Did you pass that test the other day?" Mike questioned.

"Yes, I passed it with just one answer wrong. I was very pleased if I do say so myself. Mike the reason I'm calling is something's a bit weird here to be honest." Jeannie explained.

"What do you mean Jeannie?" Mike asked.

"You remember the little incident at the house, I mean with Steve and the cat?" Jeannie questioned.

"Yes, as a matter of fact we've been discussing that here. Steve was so hurt that he took time off I think I told you. Now we're smelling an odd odor here. None of us are sure where it's coming from exactly." Mike informed Jeannie.

"I'm having the same issues Mike. About the odd odor I mean. At first I couldn't put my finger on what it was. I then realized it smelled like cat urine. I've been thinking it's my guilty conscience. Mike you know how much Steve means to me, how much he means to all of us. I wouldn't hurt him on purpose but I think we all did and badly. I don't know if an apology would help but the next time I'm home I owe him one." Jeannie exclaimed.

"Yes, we all do. Like I told Bill earlier I'm not sure he'd be willing to listen but it's owed to him. Maybe when we apologize the odor will disappear along with our guilt." Mike sounded hopeful.

"Let's hope so. The essence remains an unpleasant scent." Jeannie tried to joke.

The next couple of days Steve found the situation amusing. He chuckled discreetly as he watched Norm and the others. When he learned that Jeannie too was having the same experience he was surprised. Steve wasn't sure exactly what Chuck had done. He also wasn't sure how he had done it. Just the thought that Chuck had pulled off a little payback on Steve's behalf amazed Steve. When Steve got hold of Chuck the next day he got the answers. While they were on the phone Chuck agreed he had gotten enough payback for Steve. It was time for Mike and the others to find out the truth. The next morning Steve came to Mike's office. He was only slightly hesitant. Mike saw Steve at his door and smiled warmly.

"Come on in buddy boy. What's on your mind?" Mike queried.

"There's something I wanted to talk to..." Steve broke off as he heard a familiar voice call to him.

"We're here Steve." Chuck called out.

Steve smiled at his old friend and went to greet him. Chuck had a few others with him that he introduced to Steve. Each of them warmly greeted Steve and vice versa. Steve led them toward Mike's office as he saw Mike was glancing toward them barely able to contain his curiosity. When they went in the door closed behind them.

"Mike, this is an old friend of mine, Chuck Mermelstein. The other three are Michael Wolff, Zevan Carmichael and Geoff Connors. I was starting to talk to you when they came, there's something you should know." Steve stated.

"Lieutenant Stone, I'm the one that is responsible for the essence you've all been smelling." Chuck explained.

"You? Wait a minute how do you know about that? How could you be responsible for it?" Mike asked.

"If you have a few moments I'll explain everything." Chuck answered and saw Mike nod.

As Mike listened Chuck explained about running into Steve at Tahoe and being told about the incident at Mike's house. Chuck went on to tell how he started thinking out a plan to get Steve a little justice for his embarrassment. He went through the details of attaching microdot vials that contained synthetic cat urine to typewriter keys. He also told how he'd attached the same type vials to the bottoms of the chairs. Every movement caused the vials to emit the odor. He'd put a bigger vial in the air duct that was set off by a timer. Mike's water pitcher had a microdot vial attached to the spout and when Mike or anyone else poured water out the odor was released in the water. Mike was surprised and it showed. He then thought about something and spoke.

"Wait a minute. I follow you how things were done here but how were you able to get in? I mean SFPD usually is very careful about visitors that have no real reason to be here. Another thing too my daughter's been having the same experience. She's down in Tempe, Arizona at school. Was that your doing as well and how?" Mike inquired.

"Work orders for air duct cleaning just for homicide as well as from IBM for your typewriters helped us get in. When it was said we'd have to return the next day when you were here, we just informed the officer at the desk that we were on a schedule and returning would delay us. Once he realized that return would be in another month he made some comment about not wanting Iron Mike's wrath and we came on up. Nobody was in the squad room at the time so we worked undisturbed but fast. As for your daughter Jeannie's experience yes that's my responsibility as well. I sent a couple of other guys down there and vials were put in the air duct there as well as her shower head. When the water would come out it activated the vial and she too smelled cat urine smell in the water. As we speak the two guys are down there removing the vials so your daughter has no more issues. The four of us are here to do the same for you gentlemen." Chuck explained.

Mike didn't speak for more than a minute. His eyes were locked on Chuck and then he looked at each of the guys with him and finally Steve. All of a sudden Mike's booming laugh was heard even out in the squad room. Norm and Healey and Bill and Sekulovich all looked at each other wondering what was going on. Mike couldn't hardly stop his laughter and it caused Steve and Chuck and the other three to break into grins. Mike finally got hold of himself and got up and went out of his office motioning the five men to follow him. Once Mike explained to the men in the squad room about the smells they had been smelling they too were surprised and then burst out laughing as well. The ingenious of it all amazed them. With Mike's approval Chuck and his workers got busy removing the vials from the typewriters and chairs and air ducts, not to mention Mike's water pitcher. Steve was apologized to profusely by each of them. When Mike explained it all to Jeannie on the phone she too burst out laughing. All of them knew that they deserved what had been done so Mike felt it was best no more be said about it. It would never be forgotten that in a roundabout way Steve had gotten the upper hand.